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Medicinal plants for Bees

Published by Jollean Smith in Bees · 4/6/2019 14:13:30
Tags: BeesSaveMedicinalPlantsFlowers

Just like humans, bees need nutritious plants. That tropical plant from Asia may look stunning on your patio and may even be visited by a bee, but it may not be providing the bees the nutrition they need to fight off disease.

First, it’s important to understand that there are many things making life for bees very difficult.

Pesticides - Makes them weak and/or kills them.
Disease - Makes them weak and/or kills them.
Loss of native habitat - The bees need proper food and nutrition to be strong enough to fight off 1 and 2, loss of habitat means less natural plants.

For example, a honey bee colony does not usually get wiped out in one fell swoop. In fact, it is slowly killed off by a process of slow weakening.

Let's take a look at the slow weakening:
1. A healthy bee colony can become more weakened from chemicals, poor nutrition, cold snaps and parasites.
2. When a be becomes sick it will fly off away from the hive to protect the hive.
3. If a large number of bee’s are sick and fly away, natural hive maintenance behaviours cannot continue.
4. When a hive loses bees, it becomes a vicious cycle. There are less bees to complete the tasks that keep the remaining bees healthy, such as cool the hive or provide food for young bees.


Eventually, the colony will die.


This is even harder on native bees. These bese don’t always operate in large colonies. They may just have one bee or a few bees and not 50,000 bees like the honey bee. They will face all the same impacts, but with significantly less bees to sacrifice per se. There is much less of a chance for recovery which is why native bees are endangered.

How can you help?
1. Add more native plants to your garden. Let those native flowers that show up in your yard, grow! Or research native plants from a reputable source
2. For love of bees stop using pesticides. Fight against your community associations who do mass spraying of pesticides for things like mosquitoes. These are weakening your bees. Back away from the Round Up or whatever new fancy name they come up with for weed killers.
3. Plant medicinal flowers. Bees need flowers that help them fight disease. If they are weakened by a parasite research shows that bees will go to certain plants that help them fight it. See a list of a few below.
4. Be super careful with your big box store plants. Although there is increasing pressure on greenhouses and retailers to provide plants free of chemicals, it is still out there. So many of those pretty plants are grown with chemicals such as neonics which impact a bees immune system. I am still trying to get a straight answer from Proven Winners on if their seeds are neonics free. They keep skirting around a direct yes or no. Ideally, get your plants from a native plant store who specializes in chemical free flowers. You can also grow your own from chemical free seed (check your seed supplier carefully) or practice cultivating flowers that grow naturally. If the greenhouse cannot assure you that their plants did not originate from chemical free seeds, walk away.

Here are a couple of plants that offer medicinal benefits to bees:

Turtlehead
Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Full sun and moist soil.
Medicinal value: Offers bees iridoid glycosides which is important in helping bumblees fight off parasites.
Buy seeds: Prairie Moon Nursery, Joyful Butterfly and Swallowtail Seeds.

Sunflowers

Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils.
Medicinal value: Offers bumble bees help with reducing pathogens.
Buy seeds: Seed Needs, Swallowtail Seeds and Bakers Creek Seeds.

Purple Giant Hyssop
Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils. I find it drought tolerant.
Medicinal value: Relief from parasitic infections.
Buy seeds: Prairie Moon Nursery, Select Seeds and Everwilde Farms.

Common Yarrow
Home: Native to North America.
Plant needs: Likes full sun and tolerates many different soils.
Medicinal value: Relief from parasitic infections.
Buy seeds: Bakers Creek Seeds, Swallowtail Seeds and American Meadows.

For a longer list of flowers and further information please read an excellent article written by Becca Redomski-Bush. Some information in my blog today was learned from her facinating page.

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